How Much B2B Content is Enough?

How Much B2B Content is Enough?
Stephanie Tilton - Tue May 11, 2010 @ 02:23AM
Comments: 11

At last week's MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston, Michele and I hosted a content marketing roundtable. One participant asked how her company can determine when it has produced enough content. The answer: when it has created content that answers prospects' questions at each stage of the buying cycle.

So how does an organization go about doing that? It starts with understanding who its ideal buyers are and what concerns and issues they're facing. And the exercise of creating buyer personas can help get at those details. Buyer personas are often used to create an archetype of your ideal customer based on what you know of your current customer base and prospects.

You want to get inside the heads of these buyers and understand what makes them tick. To gather this information, talk to your customers and customer-facing personnel; conduct polls and surveys of your customer base; and monitor the online conversations that your prospects and customers engage in, such as on Twitter, blogs, and LinkedIn groups. In a previous post, Michele listed many of the questions that you'll want to answer as you develop your personas. One of the critical ones is "what questions does this person have at each stage in the buying process?"

Now you can create a grid or spreadsheet that maps questions and concerns of each buyer, in that particular stage of the buying process, etc. Each buyer concern or question represents an opportunity for content. However you choose to define the buying cycle, make sure you have substantial, valuable content that speaks to each stage. Don't forget to create content that helps nurture the relationship with existing customers, represented in the table below as the "Loyalty" column. Your customers have different questions and concerns than your prospects; if nothing else, they want to understand how to extract the most valuable possible from your product or service that they're using.

content map

Then you can start creating or finding content to fit the specific need of the buyer at that stage. You may want to conduct a content audit to see which of your current content you can use and to figure out what's working well with it.

Remember that people have different learning styles, so consider developing content in multiple formats to address each style. Also keep in mind that your content is largely taking the place of the interactions your sales reps would normally be having with prospects. Because of that, it's critical that each piece of content include a call to action that points buyers to the next logical piece of content. In other words, your call to action should guide the prospect further along the buying cycle.

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About the author: Stephanie Tilton is a content-marketing consultant who helps B2B companies craft content that nurtures leads and advances the buying cycle. You can follow her on Twitter or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.

Comments: 11

Comments

1. Jamie Wallace  |  my website   |   Tue May 11, 2010 @ 03:15AM

Stephanie - Great post. This is a really easy-to-understand way for to approach planning for a solid content marketing strategy. Too often, the prospect of "creating all that content" can become overwhelming which can lead to two problems - nothing gets done, or random pieces get done and there's no flow or continuity. Thanks for sharing those great insights.
:)

2. Ryan Beale  |  my website   |   Tue May 11, 2010 @ 03:33AM

Hey Stephanie,

Great article! A key point you make that is often overlooked is "Remember that people have different learning styles, so consider developing content in multiple formats to address each style." Content comes in many forms: Blogging, web pages, podcasts, video, presentations, pr. Using multiple forms of content creation allows for 1) more of the right prospects to find your content and 2) more of the right prospects to be educated in an efficient manner. :)

@RBeale

3. Michele Linn  |  my website   |   Tue May 11, 2010 @ 03:45AM

Stephanie,

I echo Jamie and Ryan's comments - great post. One other thing I often ask with the question, "How much content is enough?" is "How long is your typical buying process?" I agree that each piece should have a call to action that leads the prospect to the next stage, but if you are doing any nurturing program in which you are reaching out to your prospects, it's a good idea to consider how long that program should be. If it typically takes 8 months for your prospect to buy, you don't want a nurturing program that only lasts 8 weeks.

Michele

4. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Tue May 11, 2010 @ 04:09AM

@Jamie - I agree that it's easy for marketers to feel overwhelmed by the need to churn out content these days. Hopefully others will be able to use these steps to keep it manageable!

@Ryan - Thanks for highlighting an added benefit of developing content in more than one format -- it gives companies the opportunity to be discovered via multiple online venues.

@Michele - Thanks for suggesting another great way that marketers can figure out their content needs!

5. Billy Mitchell  |  my website   |   Wed May 12, 2010 @ 08:48AM

Another great post from a Savvy Sister. Stephanie, I want to start my comment by trying to answer your opening question with a question.

Q: How much B2B content is enough?

AwQ: Isn't your business dynamic enough to justify a "never-ending story"?

I think you'll agree with me that if a business never has anything new to say then they are basically just going through the motions on autopilot. I can understand that if you are a Parking Lot Tycoon or just marking time until you sell your business or retire but it's hard for me to believe that almost every business doesn't have something new to say or share everyday.

Few of us have lots of extra time to spend on creating content if our businesses are booming and even when they aren't it's not an easy find time for. But that's just it. Don't find the time, plan the time. It will be well worth the efforts of any business to wake up their website, make it central to their marketing efforts and load it with fresh, relevant, topical content.

Any business, especially in B2B, that is interested in learning more is doing the right thing by following The Savvy B2B blog. And you won't be reading this unless you are. So keep it up. The great stories at Savvy B2B keep coming and just as their efforts never end neither should yours.

So you aren't confident in your content creation capabilities?

My definition of a professional - and you are a professional aren't you? - is someone who knows when their skills at a certain task are amateurish and has the good sense to hire another professional to get the job done right.

Hire one or all of the Savvy Sister, start telling your stories and never stop.

6. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Wed May 12, 2010 @ 09:37AM

Billy,
Love the phrase "wake up the website!" Making the time for content creation should indeed be a priority for every business out there. And not just because it's "best practice," but because stats show that the ones that do are winning business.

I think I speak for my Savvy Sisters in saying that we appreciate your engagement and enthusiasm for our blog. Here's hoping others are finding just as much value in the posts we produce.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Stephanie

7. ContentKeith  |  my website   |   Thu May 13, 2010 @ 11:58AM

Great post, Stephanie -- and I have to agree with Billy's comment. Content nurturing should be an ongoing activity, given its effectiveness in all facets of the customer journey with your brand, including post-purchase, bonding, and advocacy. In fact, sometime back I posted on "the never-ending story," see it here: http://nutlug.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/the-never-ending-story/.

Thanks again for the great content....on content.

8. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Thu May 13, 2010 @ 03:23PM

Keith - You're so right -- content marketing is not an ad hoc exercise. It's the new mindset that marketers need to adopt as a way of connecting with their prospects and customers -- and there's no end in sight. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing the link to your post!

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